Entrepreneurs

What the Changing Demographics in the U.S. Mean for Your Brand

In recent years, there’s been a lot of talk about changes in the demographic makeup of the U.S. In particular, projections from the U.S. Census show the country will become majority-minority by 2043. As of July 2019, this already exists in six states: Hawaii, New Mexico, California, Texas, Nevada, and Maryland.

As data from the 2020 U.S. Census starts to roll in, those demographic changes were confirmed to still be on track, with a report showing that for the first time since 1790 when the U.S. Census came into existence, the White population declined.

In the decade since the 2010 Census, there was a decrease of 8.6 percent in people who define themselves as “White Only.” This decline from 223.6 million to 204.3 million has been attributed to an aging population and fewer births.

While the number of White people in the U.S. declined, the percentage of the White population also dropped below 60 percent for the first time, and is now at 57.8 percent. Over the same time period, the percentages of Black alone, Asian alone, and American Indian or Alaskan Native alone also increased. Most notable was the percentage of people who identify as two or more races increased by 275.7 percent.

The result of these changes will impact many things in the country in the coming years ahead, including how brands like yours operate. Here’s how to start embracing changes in the population now. 

1. Double down on representation.

Representation matters. And as you work to build an inclusive brand that attracts diverse and underserved customers, you’ll need both representation in your marketing, as well as in among your internal teams.

Your customers need to see themselves or who they aspire to be reflected in the visual imagery your brand puts forth. And increasingly, they want to know that your team is reflective of the population of customers you’re serving.

The best way to ensure you become more representative is to set specific goals around it. That way you can build action plans and policies that support you in reaching those targets.

Some companies have set goals around how diverse they want their workforce to be. For instance, Salesforce has stated their goal is to have 50 percent of their workforce be made up of underrepresented groups by 2023.

2. Identify how demographic changes impact the products, services, and experiences you’ll deliver.

Ultimately, your customers’ success is a major factor in their decision of whether to choose your or come back to you again after an initial interaction. And if aspects of their demographics impact your ability to serve them and achieve the degree of success they desire, it’ll make it harder for them to choose you. 

For instance, the LatinX population is at 18.5 percent. As this population continues to grow, your brand will need to think through how language will impact your ability to serve customers who have the problem your business solves. As you walk through this exercise, think you will need to evaluate whether or not you’ll offer communications in Spanish, and the degree to which you serve Spanish speakers.

Be intentional about identifying how demographic differences your customers have impact how you need to serve them to get optimal results for them.

3. Make belonging the goal.

Business is about belonging. When your customers feel like they belong with you, they will reward you with their attention, adoration, and loyalty. When they don’t feel like they belong, they will go off in search of another option that does make them feel that way.

Thus creating an environment that makes all your customers, no matter their differences, feel seen, cared for, and ultimately like they belong is essential.

The idea isn’t to focus on the needs of one group at the expense of another. It’s to create a customer and employee experience where everyone can thrive. Sometimes that will mean creating equity programs to support those who have different needs or experience unique challenges. And at other times that may mean creating an environment that makes people forget about their differences.

The greater degree of intimacy you have with your customers, the easier it will be to give them what they need to feel like they belong with you.

The makeup of your customers is changing. And because of that, it will be necessary for your business to evolve with those changes to stay relevant. Follow the steps above to start making those changes now.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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